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The Messianic Age is a theological term referring to a future time of universal peace and brotherhood on the earth, without crime, war and poverty. Many religions believe that there will be such an age; some refer to it as the consummate "kingdom of God", "paradise", "peaceable kingdom", or the "world to come".
Messianic Age and eschatology
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In the context of "Messianic Age", the earliest meaning of the word "messianic" is derived from notion of Yemot HaMashiach meaning "the days of the messiah", that is, the Jewish Messiah. Messiah derives from Hebrew, meaning "the anointed one". Originally the "anointed one" referred to Aaron and his descendants, the Kohanim. Following the establishment of the kingdom of Saul, it could also refer to a king who was anointed with holy anointing oil as part of what might be understood to be his coronation ceremony.
- Description of the Messianic Era
According to Jewish tradition, the Messianic Era will be one of global peace and harmony, an era free of strife and hardship, and one conducive to the furtherment of the knowledge of the Creator. The theme of the Jewish Messiah ushering in an era of global peace is encapsulated in two of the most famous scriptural passages from the Book of Isaiah:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift sword against nation and they will no longer study warfare. (Isaiah 2:4)
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
- "And at that time there will be no hunger or war, no jealousy or rivalry. For the good will be plentiful, and all delicacies available as dust.
- The entire occupation of the world will be only to know God... the people Israel will be of great wisdom; they will perceive the esoteric truths and comprehend their Creator's wisdom as is the capacity of man. As it is written (Isaiah 11:9): "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea." "
- Advent of the Messianic Era
According to the Talmud, the Midrash, and the ancient Kabbalistic work, the Zohar, the Messiah must arrive before the year 6000 from the time of creation. In Orthodox Jewish belief, the Hebrew calendar dates to the time of creation, making this correspond to the year 2240 on the Gregorian calendar.
The Midrash comments:
There is a kabbalistic tradition that maintains that each of the seven days of the week, which are based upon the seven days of creation, correspond to the seven millennia of creation. The tradition teaches that the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath day of rest, corresponds to the seventh millennium, the age of universal 'rest' - the Messianic Era. The seventh millennium perforce begins with the year 6000, and is the latest time the Messiah can come. Supporting and elaborating on this theme are numerous early and late Jewish scholars, including Rabbeinu Bachya, Abraham ibn Ezra, the Ramban, Isaac Abrabanel, the Ramchal, the Vilna Gaon, Aryeh Kaplan, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Christian eschatology includes several views of the Messianic Age.
According to realized eschatology, the Messianic Era, a time of universal peace and brotherhood on the earth, without crime, war and poverty, is already here. With the Crucifixion of Jesus the Messianic Era had begun, but according to inaugurated eschatology it will only be initiated and fulfilled by the parousia of Christ.
The Book of Revelation is commonly interpreted as referring to the "unveiling" or "revelation" of Jesus as the Christian Messiah in the apocalypse or end of the world. It tells of a 1000 year period after the apocalypse in which Satan will be bound so that he cannot influence those living on the Earth, and Jesus Christ will reign on the Earth with resurrected saints. After that Satan will be defeated once and for all, the Earth and heaven will pass away, and people will face judgment by Jesus Christ to determine whether or not they will enter the new heaven and Earth that will be established. (Revelation 21)
The Nicene Creed, professed by most Christians, expresses the belief that Christ ascended to Heaven, where he now sits at the Right hand of God and will return to earth at the Second Coming to establish the Kingdom of God of the World to Come.
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The Quran states that Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary) was the Messiah or "Prophet" sent to the Jews.[Quran 3:45] Muslims believe he is alive in Heaven, and will return to Earth to defeat the Masih ad-Dajjal, an anti-messiah comparable to the Christian Antichrist and the Jewish Armilus.
Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus. He will descend (to the earth). When you see him, recognise him: a man of medium height, reddish hair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill the swine, and put an end to war (in another Tradition, there is the word Jizyah instead of Harb (war), meaning that he will abolish jizyah); God will perish all religions except Islam. He [Jesus] will destroy the Antichrist who will live on the earth for forty days and then he will die. The Muslims will pray behind him.
Both Sunni and Shia Muslims agree Imam Mahdi will arrive first, and after him, Jesus. Jesus will proclaim that the true leader is al-Mahdi. A war, literally Jihad (Jihade Asghar) will be fought—the Dajjal (evil) against al-Mahdi and Jesus (good). This war will mark the approach of the coming of the Last Day. After Jesus slays al-Dajjāl at the Gate of Lud, he will bear witness and reveal that Islam is the true and final word from God to humanity as Yusuf Ali's translation reads:[Quran 4:159 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)]
And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them.― (159)
He will live for several years, marry, have children and will be buried in Medina.
A hadith in Sahih Bukhari (Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:55:658) says:
Allah's Apostle said "How will you be when the son of Mary descends amongst you and your Imam is from amongst you."
Very few scholars outside of Orthodox Islam reject all the quotes (Hadith) attributed to Muhammad that mention the second return of Jesus, the Dajjal and Imam Mahdi, believing that they have no Qur'anic basis. However, Quran emphatically rejects the implication of termination of Jesus’ life when he was allegedly crucified. Yusuf Ali’s translation reads:
That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";― but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. (157) Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (158)[Quran 4:157–158]
Many classical commentators such as Ibn Kathir, At-Tabari, al-Qurtubi, Suyuti, al-Undlusi (Bahr al-Muhit), Abu al-Fadl al-Alusi (Ruh al-Maani) clearly mention that verse 43:61 of the Qur'an refers to the descent of Jesus before the Day of Resurrection, indicating that Jesus would be the Sign that the Hour is close.
In Ahmadiyya Islam, the present age (the Messianic age) has been a witness to the wrath of God with the occurrence of the World Wars and the frequency of natural disasters. In Ahmadiyya, Ghulam Ahmad (d.1908) is seen as the promised Messiah whose Islamic teachings will establish spiritual reform and ultimately establish an age of peace upon earth. This age continues for around a thousand years as per Judeo-Christian prophecies; and is characterised by the assembling of mankind under one faith that is Islam as per Ahmadiyya belief.
In the Bahá'í Faith, the "Messianic Age" refers to a 1000-year period beginning with the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in 1863. Bahá'ís believe the period of peace and prosperity is gradually unfolding and will culminate in the appearance of "The Most Great Peace".
- Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings 12:5
- Babylonian Talmud Rosh Hashana 31a and Sanhedrin 97a
- Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Sepher-Hermon Press, New York, 1981, p. 141.
- Zohar (1:117a) and Zohar Vayera 119a
- Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Sepher-Hermon Press, New York, 1981, p. 141.
- Zohar, Vayera 119a
- Bachya on Genesis 2:3
- Ramban quoting Ibn Ezra at Leviticus (25:2)
- Ramban on Genesis (2:3)
- Abarbanel on Genesis 2
- Derech Hashem 4:7:2
- Safra D'Tzniusa, Ch. 5
- Page 318, The Real Messiah, online access
- Sefer HaSichos 5750:254
- "Prophecies of the Promised Messiah -- www.aaiil.org" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-27.
- The Review of Religions, January 2009, Vol.104, issue 1. p. 18-22